We often refer to the 'great commission' as if it was one single Scripture. It is one command but it is given in five separate scripture locations. In each of the references the message is essentially the same, but there is a different emphasis placed upon each one of them. Tonight we want to look into the gospel of Matthew. There are several facts we want to look at in reference to our message tonight.
I. The Commission Was Given to the Local Church.
A. Primary purpose is evangelism.
1. Jesus established the church while He was on earth. Mt. 16:18, "Upon this rock..." and that rock was Christ.
2. The church, in its early stages, was not entirely functioning because they lacked power and direction.
3. This needed power and direction came upon them on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon them in Acts 2:1-4
Note: the miracle of Pentecost was not the 'tongues' but it was the salvation of three thousand in v4l.
4. The scope of evangelism found in the great commission is seen from 'teach all nations'.
B. There was an emphasis on procedure. V19- 20
1. The local church not only has the responsibility to evangelize the nations…
2. It is the central agency assigned to the task of development and training of disciples to carry out further evangelism.
3. The local church ought never to lose sight of this very important responsibility; if we do then we cease existing as a New Testament Church.
4. Many beautiful buildings exist which are filled with, perhaps well meaning people, but they have forsaken their primary responsibility of reaching the lost and dying world; hence they have ceased to be N.T. churches!
C. There was an emphasis on getting the job done.
1. As Jesus gave the command, there was no question that it could be fulfilled.
2. We cannot shun our responsibility simply because the odds seem insurmountable.
3. God's plan was functional. It will work!
a. it is mathematically sound.
b. it is practical.
c. beginning with 12 individuals, if each one of them would lead, two people to the Lord each year and then train those two people to go out and win others, then the entire world would have been reached in their life times!
d. if we started right now, in only 18 years we would reach 4 1/2 billion people.
4. The odds are not too great: we can reach our world for Christ.
5. However, it all begins with the local church!
II. The Pastors Were Given to the Church.
A. Pastors are responsible for the development of church members.
1. Ephesians 4:11 names evangelists, Pastors and teachers.
2. Why? for the perfecting (or maturing) of the saints. Eph. 4:12
3. Note: there are not three different reasons given here, these items are all telescopic.
4. The perfecting of the saints is done to prepare them for the work of the ministry which in turn edifies or builds up the body of Christ.
B. What is the 'work of the ministry'?
1. It requires some instruction.
2. The result is the building up of the body of Christ.
3. Hence, the work of the ministry is essentially reaching others for Christ, teaching them the Word of God, perfecting (maturing) them to the point that they can continue to do the same.
C. We have an example in the apostle Paul.
1. Paul's testimony of why he was saved.
a. 1 Timothy 1:16
b. '…for this cause I obtained mercy."
2. Notice Paul's method for discipleship.
a. Acts 20:20, "I have showed you"
b. "…and have taught you publicly…"
c. "…and from house to house."
3. This was the same method that our Lord used when He sent out the disciples two by two in Mark 6:7.
III. The Saints were given for the Ministry.
A. Jesus said, "Teaching them to observe all things"
1. Not just a matter of seeing them saved…
2. But we also have a responsibility of training them for service.
B. Note: 2 Timothy 2:2 It is a very personal commission.
1. Four steps in teaching:
a. Paul taught Timothy (what Paul had been taught)
b. Timothy taught faithful men
c. Faithful men taught others
d. The cycle continues with others teaching still others.
2. We cannot escape the responsibility.
3. Peter said we must be ready. (1Pe. 3:15)
C. God is not pleased when we shirk our duties; this is a most important task.
1. Just as the strength of a chain is measured by its weakest link…
2. So to the strength of God's plan to reach this world for Christ.
3. The success of God's plan of reaching the world is dependent upon each local church.
4. Taking that thought a bit further…the local church can only be effective when each member of that church assumes his or her responsibility.
The great commission as presented in the gospel of Matthew begins with…
(1) Authority: the Local N.T. Church
(2) Procedure: Ep. 4:11; Evangelists, Pastors, Teachers…bringing the saints to maturity to do the work of the ministry.
(3) Responsibility: Every member of the local N.T. church
If we want to see N. T. results in the church, we must be obedient to the N. T. commission given. And that obedience depends upon our personal commitment to the responsibility that we each bear. Are we being obedient?